Cat and Fiddle to Catacomb

Cat and Fiddle a public-house sign, is a corruption of Caton le fidele, meaning Caton, Governor of Calais.

Cat and Kittens A public-house sign, alluding to the pewter-pots so called. Stealing these pots is termed “Cat and kitten sneaking.” We still call a large kettle a kitchen, and speak of a soldier's kit (Saxon, cytel, a pot, pan, or vessel generally.)

Cat and Tortoise or Boar and Sow. Names given to the testudo.

Cat has nine Lives (A). (See under Nine .)

Cat i' the Adage (The). The adage referred to is, the cat loves fish, but does not like to wet her paws.
   Letting `I dare not' wait upon `I would,'
   Like the poor cat i' the adage.”
   Shakespeare Macbeth, i.7

Cat may look at a King (A). An insolent remark of insubordination, meaning, “I am as good as you”, or “Are you too mighty to be spoken to or looked at?” “You may wear stars and ribbons, and I may be dressed in hodden grey, but a man's a man for a' that.”

Cat-o'-nine-tails A whip, first with three, then with six, and lastly with nine lashes, used for punishing offenders, and briefly called a cat. Lilburn was scourged, in 1637, with a whip having only three lashes, but there were twenty knots in each tail, and, as he received a lash every three paces between the Fleet and Old Palace Yard, Cook says that 60,000 stripes were inflicted. Titus Oates was scourged, in the reign of James II., with a cat having six lashes, and, between Newgate and Tyburn, received as many as 17,000 lashes. The cat-o'-nine-tails once used in the British army and navy is no longer employed there, but garotters and some other offenders are still scourged. Probably the punishment was first used on board ship, where ropes would be handy, and several ropes are called cats, as “cat-harpings,” for bracing the shrouds, “cat-falls,” which pass over the cat-head and communicate with the cat-block. etc. The French martinet (q.v.) had twelve leather thongs.

Cat Proverbs    A cat has nine lives. A cat is more tenacious of life than other animals, because it generally lights upon its feet without injury, the foot and toes being padded so as to break the fall. (See Nine .)

Tub What wouldst thou have with me?
Mer. Good king of cats, nothing but one of your nine lives.”
Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, iii. l.
   All cats love fish. (See previous column, Cat I' The Adage.)
   Before the cat can lick her ear - i.e. before the Greek kalends. Never. No cat can lick her ear. (See Never.)
   Care killed the cat. (See page 216, 2, Care.)
   In the dark all cats are gray. All persons are undistinguished till they have made a name.
   Not room to swing a cat. Swinging cats as a mark for sportsmen was at one time a favourite amusement. There were several varieties of this diversion. Sometimes two cats were swung by their tails over a rope. Sometimes a cat was swung to the bough of a tree in a bag or sack. Sometimes it was enclosed in a leather bottle.
   Sick as a cat. Cats are very subject to vomiting. Hence the vomit of a drunkard is called “a cat,” and the act of discarding it is called “shooting the cat.”
   Let the cat out of the bag. To disclose a secret. It was formerly a trick among country folk to substitute a cat for a sucking- pig, and bring it in a bag to market. If any greenhorn chose to buy a “pig in a poke” without examination, all very well; but if he opened the sack, “he let the cat out of the bag,” and the trick was disclosed.

“She let the cat out of her bag of verse ... she almost proposed to her hero in rhyme.” George Meredith: The Egotist, iii.
   To bell the cat. (See page 119, Bell.)
   To turn cat-in-pan. To turn traitor, to be a turncoat. The phrase seems to be the French tourner cote en peine (to turn sides in trouble). I do not think it refers to turning pancakes.

“When George in pudding-time came o'er
And moderate men looked big, sir.
I turned a cat-in-pan once more.
And so became a Whig, sir.”
Vicar of Bray.
   Bacon says, “There is a cunning which we in England call the turning of the cat in the pan; which is, when that which a man says to another, he says it as if another had said it to him.”
   Touch not a cat but a glove. Here “but” is used in its original meaning of “beout,” i.e. without. (For another example of “but” meaning without, see Amos iii. 7.) The words are the motto of Mackintosh, whose crest is “cat-a-mountain salient guardant proper”; supporters, two cats

  By PanEris using Melati.

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